Welcome back to The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging! If you’ve never been here before you can catch up on previous posts in the series here.
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I have a triad of fears I like to call the three Ss: sharks, spiders, and social media. I sometimes have one of those Twilight Zone moments when I become acutely aware of just how bizarre our digitally saturated culture is becoming. Take for example that time a couple months ago when “Sir Oscar Wilde” was trending on Twitter or that one day I browsed through the #books hashtag on Instagram and was puzzled to find a substantial amount of porn. And there wasn’t even a single book floating around behind those over-inflated boobs!
Needless to say, the land of social media lies far outside my comfort zone. Nevertheless, there are some good things about social media, like the chance it offers to effectively promote my blog and attract new readers, make like-minded friends I didn’t know I wanted, and have a voice (albeit a very small one) amongst the cacophony of idiots who want Donald Trump to be president. Oh, the joy.
For the next five weeks we’re going to be talking about the major social media platforms most book bloggers use–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads–and how to use them to network with the book blogging community, make new friends, increase your traffic, and build a loyal readership. Buckle your seatbelt. We’re starting with the most fast-paced platform of all–Twitter.
What exactly should you be tweeting about?
Well, if you’re a book blogger, you should tweet about books. While off-topic tweets are okay every now and then, if you blog in a specific niche, you’re generally better off tweeting primarily within that same niche. Too much unfocused content will likely narrow your potential audience, which means that fewer people will follow you. If you want to tweet about more diverse topics, I suggest setting up a secondary account for personal use.
The Three Types of Tweets
There are three fundamental types of tweets. As far as I know, no one has yet named these categories, so I’m going to explore them using a [probably bad] gardening metaphor that I came up with when I was very tired. *ahem*
This is your base layer of Twitter content, which should comprise the majority (if only a slight majority) of your tweets. It involves tweeting bookish blog posts, articles, and webpages from around the Internet. The reason you want the majority of your tweets to be about other people’s content is that it adds diversity to your Twitter feed. People will generally grow bored or feel spammed if you only share your own content. Here is an example of a fill dirt tweet.
— Kate Scott (@parchmentgirl37) March 3, 2016
I keep all my favorite bookish sites in a bookmarks folder in my browser. This makes it quick and easy to find great articles and blog posts to tweet. I never run out of content. Here are just a few of the sites on my favorites list.
- Book Beast
- Book Riot (It’s not like I’m biased or anything.)
- Bustle Books
- BuzzFeed Books
- Electric Literature
- Flavorwire Books
- HuffPost Books
- Literary Hub
- Parchment Girl (Whoops, did I slip that in there?)
- PureWow Books
This is the part where you tweet your own blog content. Here is an example of a topsoil tweet.
— Kate Scott (@parchmentgirl37) March 3, 2016
Opinions on how many times you should tweet a blog post vary. I tweet my blog posts three times: the morning I publish it, later that evening, and again around lunchtime the following day. I sometimes tweet popular posts more often and occasionally I tweet something from my archives. This system works for me, but tweeting frequency is a very personal thing. Experiment and figure out what works best for you.
I schedule fill dirt and topsoil tweets in advance. Seedlings are the tweets I send out on the spur of the moment, have nothing to do with sharing content, and are more likely to be non-book-related. Seedlings might include replies to other blogger’s tweets, spontaneous retweets, humorous comments, random late-night ramblings, tweets on one of Twitter’s trending topics, and other sundry items. While fill dirt and topsoil tweets form the foundation of your Twitter feed, seedling tweets are what will help you connect with other readers and book bloggers on a personal level. Here is an example of a seedling tweet.
That feeling when your inbox is empty for the first time in months. pic.twitter.com/b8cPZ6r9um
— Kate Scott (@parchmentgirl37) March 2, 2016
I schedule 28 tweets every week. Generally speaking, about 12 of those are topsoil tweets and 16 are fill dirt tweets. Then I sprinkle anywhere from 5-20 seedlings on top of that. This ratio works pretty well for me, but remember that Twitter is a very fast-paced social media platform. According to Betaworks CEO John Borthwick, the half-life of a tweet is just four minutes. I schedule 4 tweets a day, but you can send out many more than that if it suits you. (Just try to space them out a bit. No one likes to be spammed.) The only reason I set my limit at 4 is because I think I would go stark raving mad if I tried to tweet more often, but that’s just me.
Scheduling Your Tweets for Higher Impact
The worst thing about social media is actually remembering to post. Unless you’re a smart phone addict with twitchy thumbs, this is going to be a problem–unless you have a scheduling tool. Scheduling tools allow you to craft social media posts at your convenience and then publish them automatically at set times.
[bctt tweet=”A Book Blogger’s Guide to #Twitter: Tips & Tricks + the 3 types of tweets! | @parchmentgirl37″]
There are many different Twitter scheduling tools out there and I’ve tried quite a few, including TweetDeck, HootSuite, Klout, and Buffer. These services are always trying to one-up each other, so I’ve had various favorites over the years. Nowadays, I recommend Buffer. With Buffer’s free plan you can schedule your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn accounts all in one place. You can schedule up to 10 tweets at a time on each social media profile. I recently upgraded to Buffer’s Awesome plan, and I have to say that it’s actually living up to its name. The Awesome plan lets me schedule up to 100 posts on each profile and allows me to schedule Pinterest pins, which is very important to me (more on that when we talk about Pinterest in a couple of weeks). Buffer automatically calculates when the best times for me to tweet are and then creates a schedule for me that takes into account my preferred tweeting frequency. It’s fantastic and I don’t think I could blog without it. Buffer also has excellent customer service. I was having a terrible experience with my web host provider, so the Buffer team sent me stickers. Can you believe that? They sent me stickers to cheer me up after a bad experience with ANOTHER company. I just can’t. (And by the way, in case you’re wondering, I don’t have any sort of affiliate relationship with Buffer. This is from the heart, yo.)
Anatomy of a Tweet
The Internet today is all about aesthetics. For better or worse, if you don’t have a beautiful blog design and eye-catching graphics, the brilliant things you have to say will probably be ignored. This applies to your tweets as well. Here is a tweet with all its components explained.
- The title of article I’m linking to. I made one error here and that was failing to correct the mistakenly capitalized Ts in “The” and “To” when I copied and pasted the title of the article. Probably nobody noticed, but I like my tweets to be as grammatically correct as possible. I also could have added a hashtag symbol before “books” to make my post more searchable. Also notice how I added a divider between the title of the article and the links. This just makes the tweet look neater and less jumbled.
- The source of the article. Tagging the source or author of an article is good karma. I’ve been retweeted quite a few times by @BuzzFeedBooks and @ElectricLit because I tagged them when sharing their content. As a result, I gained some new followers and lots of likes and retweets. Don’t tag yourself if you’re sharing your own content.
- The link to the article. Most Scheduling tools automatically shorten full-length URLs. If you’re tweeting a link directly from Twitter, make sure you shorten it using a service like TinyURL before you post.
- An image to go with the post. A study conducted by Buffer revealed that tweets with images get 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets. That’s a major difference! One thing I love about Buffer is that it automatically grabs images from the page that I’m linking to. All I have to do is select which image(s) from that URL I want to include in my post and voila!
5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Twitter
- Use hashtags. According to another very helpful Buffer study, tweets with hashtags receive 2x more engagements than tweets without them. But don’t use too many! Tweets with one or two hashtags receive 21% more engagement than tweets with 3 or more hashtags. In fact tweets that use more than two hashtags receive 17% less engagement on average.
- Prettify your profile. Remember what I said about the Internet being all about aesthetics? This applies to your Twitter profile too. Make sure you have an attractive profile photo and cover image. I recommend matching your cover image to your blog theme. Also make sure your profile’s color scheme matches the cover image (you can change this in settings). The recommended cover image size is 1500x500px, but I recommend doubling that size. Doing so will cause the image to compress when you upload it, rendering it crystal clear on Retina screens.
- Write a catchy Twitter bio. Your Twitter bio consists of the most important 180 characters on your profile, so don’t skimp on it. You can even use a hashtag in your bio or tag any other sites that you contribute to (for example, I tagged @BookRiot in my bio). And be sure to add a link to your blog in the appropriate field.
- Reach out to people you don’t know. Search through relevant hashtags (#books, #reading, #literature, etc.) and find people in your niche to follow and engage with. Reply to a tweet and start a conversation. It may not be comfortable at first, but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough.
- Participate in or host a Twitter chat. Twitter chats are basically where a bunch of people tweet about a topic using the same hashtag. Twitter chats are a great way to engage with the book blogging community and meet new people. A couple of great Twitter book chats are #readpenguin and #TSBC (The Sunday Book Club). If you have a large following, try hosting your own Twitter chat!
Twitter is a vital part of the blogging ecosystem, so don’t be afraid to jump in and introduce yourself. You may feel like you’re in over your head at first (I certainly did), but you’ll soon get the hang of it.
Questions? Leave them in the comments below!
Check out The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging for more tips and tricks on how to become a book blogging wiz!